AMBASSADOR JALIYA WICKRAMASURIYA BRIEFS
MEMBERS OF US CONGRESS
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States
continued a series of briefings on Capitol Hill last week as government
forces cornered Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam militants in
northern Sri Lanka.
Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya met with Democratic
Representatives Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Heath Shuler
of North Carolina and Republican Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey.
The meetings included a discussion of developments in the Sri
Lankan conflict. (Van Hollen’s father once served as U.S.
ambassador to Sri Lanka).
During the meetings, Ambassador Wickramasuriya
explained that the fighting has reached a protracted stage because
government security forces do not want to endanger civilians held
captive as human shields by the LTTE.
Instead, Ambassador told those in Congress, government
forces have declared a safety zone for civilians and have worked
with the United Nations and International Committee of the Red
Cross to evacuate trapped civilians and provide needed food and
Ambassador Wickramasuriya said that all members
of Congress who he has met with so far are receptive to the government’s
campaign against the LTTE, which the United States government
considers a terrorist group. Ambassador said those in Congress
understand how costly the war has been for Sri Lankans.
Ambassador Wickramasuriya’s briefings also
involved discussions of post-conflict work in Sri Lanka. Within
days, Ambassador said, the government will shift from a war-footing
to one of helping displaced populations and delivering resources
to communities damaged by the fighting.
"These civilians have been under the threat
of terrorism for the last 30 years," Ambassador said. "Now
the government has liberated them and this is the time that the
government will look after them."
Embassy of Sri Lanka
03 April 2009